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Award-Winning Educator Highlights Ways Institutions Can Bridge Equity Gaps, Increase Student Success

President’s Lecture Series features award-winning educator Dr. Timothy Renick

On March 5, award-winning educator Dr. Timothy Renick presented, “Inclusive Excellence, the Way Forward: Recommitting to Student Success,” as part of the President’s Lecture Series launched by UHD President Loren J. Blanchard in 2021. Renick’s presentation is Part I of the UHD Spring 2022 Student Success and Equity Summit.

Renick serves as the Executive Director of the National Institute for Student Success at Georgia State University and directed the university’s student success from 2008 to 2020. During that time, he oversaw a 62 percent improvement in graduation rates and helped close equity gaps among Black and Hispanic students as well as Pell grant recipients. 

“Equity gaps exist prior to students arriving, but that doesn't mean that you don’t have any control over it,” Renick said. “In fact, Georgia State shows that you can reverse equity gaps. Once we knew that we could do so, we didn’t want to be in the position of having that knowledge and not doing anything about it.” 

Renick also presented three core lessons that outlined: how higher education institutions inadvertently hinder students’ success; how institutions can identify obstacles through introspective questioning and data research; and how “action-oriented” institutions can create ongoing success through data-backed initiatives. 

The lecture addressed ways institutions create barriers that impede the student experience and how schools can strategically address and reduce those barriers. Renick shared the example of implementing an artificial intelligence chatbot to help students find answers to commonly asked questions around the clock without risk of embarrassment or time insensitivity.

The event was moderated by Dr. Sheila Lloyd, who serves as UHD’s Associate Vice President of Academic Affairs and helps lead the University’s Strategic Planning Process

Part II of the Spring 2022 Student Success and Equity Summit will continue on April 8 with a visit from Dr. Tia Brown McNair from the American Association of Colleges and Universities, a global membership organization dedicated to advancing the vitality of undergraduate liberal education. McNair is the Vice President in the Office of Diversity, Equity, and Student Success and Executive Director for the Truth, Racial Healing, and Transformation Campus Centers at the American Association of Colleges and Universities in Washington, D.C. In March 2020, Diverse: Issues in Higher Education named McNair one of 35 outstanding women who have tackled some of higher education’s toughest challenges, exhibited extraordinary leadership skills, and made a positive difference in their communities.

UHD President's Lecture Series on Justice, Equity & Inclusion began in 2021 addressing topics such as health equity among communities of color, organizational diversity, and the impact of climate change in Houston. The series is supported by a $75,000 grant from the ECMC Foundation and sponsored by the UHD Office of the Provost.